January is designated National Blood Donor Month every year by the American Red Cross to remind holiday travelers to give blood. But, because of the 2020 Coronavirus epidemic, the 2021 January blood drive may be a bit different.
Ironically, travel restrictions and the economic downturn related to the virus may help January donations to OneBlood, which operates three centers and eight mobile Big Red Bus units in Brevard, said Pat Michaels, the OneBlood director of media and public relations.
“Normally our donations drop off during the holidays and the summer months because people are traveling,” he said. “This year, because of the decline in travel, ARC and OneBlood is trying to find new ways to draw attention to the fact that donations are needed on a regular basis. “We essentially have a captive audience.”
Also new this year for OneBlood: the collection of convalescent plasma from recovered Covid-19 patients and now a total of 14 Covid-19-related tests including a test for antibodies. The antibody test is authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the virus, regardless of whether they ever showed symptoms. Donors will be able to see their results in approximately two to five days. Donors who test positive for the antibody will be eligible to become COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors, he said.
National Blood Donor Month has been observed since January 1970. OneBlood is a not-for-profit blood center serving Florida, North Carolina and much of the southeastern United States including 250 hospitals.
It was a grim experience for OneBlood during the early stages of the pandemic when thousands of donations were lost because of the loss of regular blood drives, especially in high schools and universities, Michaels said. Supplies are much better now, he said.
“We found ourselves in dynamics that we had never fathomed we would have to deal with. In this business, you cannot find yourself without donors needed for blood transfusions and cancer and emergency treatments,”
For more information or to donate, call 1-888-936-6283 or go to Oneblood.org